Easy Paneer masala stuffed peppers cooked in a luscious tomato gravy is a unique Indian vegetarian gravy. This delicious Indian gravy is ideal for special occasions, brunches, and parties and can be made in 45 minutes.
What is Paneer Masala
Paneer is a non-melting Indian cottage cheese. Paneer Masala is a popular North Indian restaurant-style vegetarian gravy recipe. In the traditional recipe, fried or soft cubes of paneer and chopped bell peppers are added to a rich and creamy red tomato gravy. My version of this simple Indian-style paneer recipe is new and unique. Basically, it has all the ingredients needed to make a classic Paneer Masala with capsicum but is presented so differently that it will leave you mesmerized.
In this dish, bell peppers are sliced first, then stuffed with specially prepared paneer masala, and then grilled. A luscious and creamy tomato gravy is prepared where these grilled stuffed pepper slices are dropped in just before serving (similar to Kofta Curry). This simple and easy Indian-style paneer masala gravy recipe is a keeper for special occasions! The way it is served makes this Indian cottage cheese recipe look appetizing and delicious. I feel this sabzi stays true to the classic recipe’s core flavor profile while still giving us a restaurant or dhaba-style experience.
Difference between paneer tikka and masala
Don't get confused between paneer masala curry and tikka masala. They are different. In the tikka masala recipe, the paneer is marinated and then grilled. It is often served as a spicy appetizer or gravy. The Paneer Masala recipe is a mild dish where paneer cubes are mixed in a creamy tomato gravy.
Cooking with paneer is very easy. You can make a variety of Indian recipes with it. Paneer Tikka (Tofu Tikka Masala is the vegan version), Paneer Makhani (Tofu Makhani is the vegan version), Kadai Paneer, Matar Paneer, and Palak Paneer, Spinach Paneer Puffs, Paneer Pizza are some other popular recipes. It's also used to make traditional Indian desserts like Rose Sandesh and Gujiyas!
What is Bharwa Shimla Mirch
Bharwa Shimla Mirch is the Indian version of stuffed bell peppers. Bharwa means stuffed in Hindi and Shimla mirch (or Capsicum) is the Indian name for bell peppers. Capsicum is stuffed with potatoes, seasoned rice, paneer, veggies, lentils, cheese, or any other mixture and is served as a side or as an appetizer. Speaking of easy stuffed peppers, have you tried my Jalapeno Poppers recipe yet? They are vegan and made in the Air Fryer!
I love adding capsicum to dishes like Veg Kolhapuri, Mushroom Pepper Fry, Veg Jalfrezi, Indian Curry Pasta, Hakka Noodles, and Bell Pepper Pulao. Paneer and capsicum make a great combo and are often clubbed together in many Indian recipes. This recipe is a fusion between Bharwa Shimla Mirch and Paneer Masala gravy. That's why you can also call this dish Stuffed Bell Peppers Curry or Bharwa Shimla Mirch in Tomato Gravy. You can make it spicy or mild based on your preference. I think it is one of the best paneer recipes I have tasted!
Why make this
- A different paneer-capsicum gravy recipe
- It's vegetarian, gluten-free, and soy-free
- Ideal for special occasions
- Simple and easy to make
- One-pot meal
- No marination or heavy cream required
- It's a fusion of two popular Indian recipes
Ingredients needed 🧾
Homemade or store-bought paneer that's fresh or frozen can be used. It is easily available in all Indian grocery stores. You can also find it on Amazon and at Whole Foods.
Peppers - Green or colored bell peppers/capsicum/Shimla mirch can be used. Red, Yellow, and Orange bell peppers will be mildly sweet in comparison to the green ones. For this particular recipe, the larger the peppers, the better they are because you will get more slices out of them.
Other veggies - Potatoes, onions, and ripe red tomatoes are the other basic vegetables you will need to make this stuffed Capsicum Curry. You can also use tomato puree instead of fresh tomatoes for a deeper red color gravy.
Seeds and nuts - cumin seeds and unsalted raw cashews will give this vegetarian curry an earthy and nutty flavor.
Aromatics - ginger, garlic, green chillies, cilantro, and dried red chillies are what you will need.
Milk is used to make the tomato gravy creamy. You can also add cream instead.
How to make it 🔪
To stuff the capsicum
- Carefully cut thick slices of bell peppers after deseeding them. Finely chop and reserve the leftover peppers for the gravy.
- In a mixing bowl, add crumbled paneer, mashed potato, cilantro, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt, garlic powder, and green chillies. Mix it all together.
- Stuff this mixture in the bell pepper slices tightly. Keep them aside. You can also keep them refrigerated for 15 minutes.
- Heat a pan, and grill these bell pepper slices evenly on both sides. Smear oil or butter while grilling. Chef tip - When frying stuffed capsicum, cook them evenly on each side and flip only after a minute or two. Be careful to not break them while flipping them. They should turn slightly golden. Keep the flame medium.
To prepare the tomato gravy
- Add roughly chopped tomatoes, soaked cashews (soak cashews in hot water for 10 minutes), dried red chillies, cumin seeds, and roughly chopped onions in a mixer grinder.
- Blitz to a smooth paste. Add milk while grinding to give the paste a creamy texture. Sieve this sauce if you want it smooth. Set it aside for now.
- Heat oil in the same pan, fry garlic and the remaining chopped bell peppers along with leftover stuffing mixture (if any). Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium flame.
- Next, add the ground tomato paste along with salt. Add water to get the desired consistency. Cook covered for 5-6 minutes so that the raw smell of tomatoes goes away. Chef tip - If the tomato gravy starts sticking to the bottom, add a little hot water and scrape the pan. Luscious tomato gravy is now ready. Take it off the flame.
Serving suggestions 🍽
Before serving, add the grilled paneer stuffed pepper slices. Garnish with cilantro. Drizzle cream, butter, or yogurt on top if you wish to, and serve hot. The stuffed bell peppers dunked in tomato gravy make this dish lip-smacking and delicious. Serve it with any Indian flatbread like roti, chapati, Poori, or Garlic Coriander Naan. It also pairs well with Jeera Rice, and Green Peas Pulao along with Mango Rose Lassi. This vegetarian dish is a delight for all paneer lovers! The dish turns out to be extremely flavorful and finger-licking good!
Since this paneer stuffed capsicum curry recipe is truly one-of-a-kind, it's ideal to be served on special occasions like holidays, and festivals like Diwali, Holi, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays, or Anniversaries. You can also prepare this vegetarian curry for brunches, parties, potlucks, weekend lunches or dinners, or any special occasion. This new recipe looks grand but is one of the easiest paneer recipes with gravy. Leftovers can be packed in lunchboxes. These paneer stuffed bell peppers can also be served without the gravy, as an appetizer.
Top recipe tips 💭
If using frozen paneer, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Then use. Use any colored bell pepper for this recipe. When cutting the capsicum, ensure that they are at least a centimeter thick. You will be able to get 3-4 slices depending upon the size of the bell peppers. Leftover capsicum can be finely chopped and added to the gravy. While stuffing them, press the mixture tightly so that it fills up all the space. Flip them and again press the mixture. Add some cheese on top of the pepper to give it a cheesy flavor. Use butter when grilling the stuffed bell pepper slices to give the curry a buttery flavor.
Recipe FAQs 📖
I sliced them raw, then stuffed and shallow-fried them. For this protein-packed Indian stuffed bell pepper curry recipe, this technique works.
After slicing the bell peppers, the remains can be finely chopped and added to the gravy. Similarly, the leftover stuffing can also be added to the gravy. They can also be shaped as koftas (small lemon-sized balls) and added to this tomato gravy similar to Kofta Curry. Leftover curry can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can totally make it ahead of time. In that case, store the tomato gravy and the paneer stuffed capsicum separately. Add them to the gravy at the time of reheating. They can also be frozen separately for up to two months.
To make it vegan, use tofu or make the stuffing with just potatoes. You can also stuff the sliced bell peppers with cooked and mashed lentils, rice, cauliflower rice, meatless crumbles, grains like quinoa, mashed beans, etc. Also, while making the tomato gravy, use dairy-free milk or just water. Drizzle some cashew cream on top before serving.
Yes, you can air fry them. Follow the air fryer cooking instructions on my Jalapeno Poppers recipe. Alternatively, you can also brush these stuffed peppers with oil and bake them at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until done.
If you want to serve stuffed capsicum as a side or as an appetizer, you can skip making the gravy. While choosing the peppers ensure that they are smaller in size, fairly symmetrical, and stand well without needing the bottoms cut too much. There is no need to cut them into slices. You can either cut the top off or vertically slit the capsicum into two halves. Remove the seeds and then stuff them with the paneer filling and cook evenly on all sides, in a covered pan. Sprinkle chaat masala on top and serve.
Use red ripe tomatoes. Instead of tomatoes, you can also use tomato puree or sauce but it will be more acidic but may give it that rich red color. Add a teaspoon of sugar along with salt to balance the acidic flavor. Strain the prepared sauce if you want a smooth texture. The tomato gravy should have a thick pouring consistency.
To make the tomato gravy nut-free, use melon seeds, sunflower seeds, or poppy seeds instead of cashews. If you want to make this vegetarian creamy paneer tomato curry Jain, skip adding onion, garlic, and ginger. The tomato gravy can be used as a base and you can add any veggies, or protein to it.
More Indian paneer recipes
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To stuff the capsicum
To stuff the capsicum
- Carefully cut thick slices of bell peppers after deseeding it. Finely chop and reserve the leftover peppers for the gravy.
- In a mixing bowl, add crumbled paneer, mashed potato, cilantro, coriander cumin powder, salt, garlic powder, and green chillies. Mix it all together.
- Stuff this mixture in the bell pepper slices tightly.
- Heat a pan, grill these bell pepper slices evenly on both the sides. Smear oil while grilling. Keep them aside. Be careful to not break them while flipping them.
To prepare the tomato gravy
- Add tomatoes, cashews, dried red chillies, cumin seeds and onions in a mixer grinder.
- Splitz to a smooth paste. Add milk while grinding to give the paste a creamy texture.
- Heat oil in the same pan, fry garlic and the remaining chopped bell peppers along with leftover paneer mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium flame.
- Next add the ground tomato paste along with salt. Add water to get the desired consistency. Cook covered for 5-6 minutes so that the raw smell of tomatoes goes away.
- Before serving, add the grilled chilly paneer slices.
- Garnish with cilantro. Drizzle cream or yogurt if you wish to and serve hot.